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Photo courtesy of Texas Exes

Maybe it's not as much of a surprise given how big our city is, but did you know several of San Antonio's local businesses are run by University of Texas at Austin grads? Now, five of Alamo City's fastest growing, Longhorn-run businesses are receiving the recognition they deserve by their alma mater.

UT Austin's alumni association, the Texas Exes, celebrated 100 nationwide companies who were founded, owned, or led by Longhorns over the past five years with the inaugural Longhorn 100 Gala on May 18. Award recipients must have held a minimum annual revenue of $250,000 since 2019 to qualify, in addition to their Longhorn status.

The San Antonio winners include popular restaurants, clinics, a construction and architecture firm, a community organization, and more:

  • Stagg Restaurants Dba McDonald's
  • San Antonio Cosmetic Surgery, PA
  • BIRD Bakery
  • OfficeSource, Ltd
  • Day 1 Bags (Boerne)

Elsewhere around the state, Austin-area businesses (of course) took home the most awards, totaling 43. Hill Country Dental Associates in Kerrville and McAllen's Castle Hospitality also took home Longhorn 100 Awards. In Houston, 13 businesses were also celebrated.

The full list of Longhorn 100 winners from around the state can be found on texasexes.org.
Photo by Guillermo Rosas

San Antonians gather to toast Alamo City's culinary scene during blowout Tastemakers

TOAST THE TASTEMAKERS

We’ve only just recovered. After weeks of honoring the San Antonio bar and restaurant scene through a special editorial series, we finally crowned the winners on May 18 at a hotly anticipated party held at the Briscoe Museum. Guests sipped and savored while patiently waiting for us to reveal the champions.

During the exclusive VIP hour, guests received a first taste of the delicious bites from participating chefs. They also got in the first bids for silent auction items benefiting our nonprofit beneficiary, the Southern Smoke Foundation.

There were plenty of libations courtesy of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, Dripping Springs Vodka, and Epic Western. Hometown brewers Viva, Weathered Souls, and Second Pitch kept guests quenched with plenty of brews, a perfect companion to Twang’s beer salt. Guests could also grab Topo Chico Sparkling Mineral Water to cool off on a hot day.

Once the doors officially opened, guests were tempted by an array of succulent dishes from the nominees. Ladino, a dual nominee for Best New Restaurant and Restaurant of the Year, wowed with agristada de pishkado — a white fish bite perfect for spring weather. Bar of the Year contender Moon’s Daughter showed their culinary acumen with lamb ragu hummus. And Rebelle spoiled attendees with East Coast oysters.

Finally, the crowd gathered to congratulate this year’s crop of honorees. Cheers filled the Briscoe’s halls as KENS 5 personality Sarah Forganey revealed the winners. Throughout the night, partygoers voted in the Burger Throwdown, presented by Goodstock by Nolan Ryan, giving Southtown's Bar Loretta the ultimate prize.

Robbie Nowlin of Allora and Arrosta was named Chef of the Year, while Sofia Tejeda of Hotel Emma nabbed the Pastry Chef of the Year award. Amor Eterno and Künstler Brewing won Bar of the Year and Best Brewery, respectively.

Then, three diverse restaurants scored in the restaurant categories. East side fave The Magpie got an early boost as Neighborhood Restaurant of the Year, while CultureMap readers selected Reese Bros. BBQ as this year’s Best New Restaurant. Lastly, Pearl showcase Carriqui nabbed the biggest award of the evening — Restaurant of the Year.

It was heartwarming to see San Antonio’s culinary industry greats toasting their peers and the special connections forged between restaurants and their guests. Now that we have gotten some rest, we can’t wait to do it again next year!

San Antonio Tastemakers 2023

Photo by Guillermo Rosas

Aaron Peña (l) and JC Salinas of Amor Eterno show off their Bar of the Year trophy.

Hotel Emma/ Facebook

Posh Pearl hotel books top spot on best luxury hotels in U.S. list

NO RESERVATIONS

We hope they have a good duster. Guests are so impressed with Hotel Emma that it has become a mainstay of awards lists, overloading the Pearl property's shelves with plaques, trophies, and clippings.

The latest comes from the online booking agent Tripadvisor. The company's coveted Travelers' Choice Best of Best Awards recently ranked the tony property tops in two categories, naming it the number one luxury hotel in the United States and the second-best hotel overall.

The annual awards cover various facets of the industry, from things to do to restaurants. Hotels are broken into several subcategories, including inns, family friendly lodging, and hotels for sleep. Rankings are based on reviews and ratings collected from site users over the previous 12 months.

Tripadvisor was smitten with Hotel Emma's unconventional historic surrounds, stating it "enhances a new standard of South Texas luxury and geniality." The site was also impressed by the gobsmacking array of culinary offerings a short stroll from the lobby.

"We are incredibly proud to celebrate this honor and achievement with our Hotel Emma family and valued guests. We always strive to maintain our standard of excellence and luxury through the Emma way to offer the most memorable and remarkable experiences for our visitors." Said Jon Sakshaug, CEO of Hotel Emma, via a release.

Hotel Emma is no stranger to Tripadvisor honors. The 2023 awards mark the seventh time the San Antonio jewel has received flowers from the long-running awards. Last year, it was one of only two properties in the state to make it to the list — clocking in as the 11th-best hotel in the U.S.

Freetail Brewing/Instagram

What's brewing in San Antonio: 5 San Antonio-area breweries win at World Beer Cup, and more news

San Antonio Brewing News

Editor's Note: With a new craft beer spot popping up in San Antonio seemingly every month, we've started a new column to track all things beer in Alamo City. Here's our roundup of everything that's brewing in San Antonio.

Local breweries among World Beer Cup winners

Five San Antonio-area breweries were among winners of the World Beer Cup, which was held during the annual Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America events. All of the 2023 events took place in Nashville; More than 200 beer professionals judged World Beer Cup entries in 100-plus categories, where gold, silver and bronze medalists were named.

In the end, Freetail Brewing Co.’s "Imagine 14 Years" won a gold medal for hoppy lager. Imagine 14 Years, released as part of Freetail’s 14th anniversary celebration last fall, is a variation of the brewpub’s award-winning "Imagine a World with Beer Cellars Instead of 401ks."

Five Stones Artisan Brewery’s "Norma Jeane" was awarded a bronze medal in the fruit beer category. While "Norma Jeane" is part of Five Stones’ seasonal lineup, it has been popular with Five Stones fans since its launch. Located north of San Antonio, Five Stones marked its 10th anniversary earlier in May. “The beer has given us both grief and joy in our pursuit to get it right. Being awarded bronze at this competition blew major wind in our sails as a brewery and a family,” the folks at Five Stones said in a social media post about the award.

Three Hill Country breweries claimed World Beer Cup honors, too. Fredericksburg’s Altstadt Brewery’s hefeweizen was a gold medalist in the South German-style hefeweizen category. Blanco’s Real Ale Brewing Co.’s "Scots Gone Wild" received a gold medal in the wood- and barrel-aged sour category. Johnson City’s Pecan Street Brewing Co.’s rye lager received a bronze medal in the rye beer category.

Other distilled news and notes

Maverick Distilling in downtown San Antonio has released its limited-edition Samuel Maverick Barrel-Aged Texas Dry Gin, which was distilled in small batches using locally grown Texas ingredients. It was then aged in bourbon barrels on-site in the underground vaults of the historic Lockwood National Bank. Only 250 bottles were produced for this small-batch release, which was barreled at 120 proof and aged in No. 3 char white American oak barrels.

“With our barrel-aged Texas Dry Gin, we wanted to create a spirit that is refreshing and unique to the Lone Star State,” distillery founder Dr. Kenneth Maverick said. “Gin continues to grow in popularity as people discover that good gin doesn’t taste like bad medicine. We wanted to offer our customers another version of gin and knew that the impressive botanicals that we use for our Texas Dry Gin would evolve into something beautiful with barrel aging.”

In a May 9 media event previewing the new gin, Maverick provided an update on his facility, saying they have eliminated full kitchen service in favor of partnering with neighboring restaurants and food trucks. Distillery visitors will be able to order food for delivery onsite. Maverick Distilling is open to the public, but it is also available for private special events, from family celebrations to corporate functions. Maverick did say, however, that there are plans to expand the original craft beer offerings.

The biergarten at Faust Brewing Co. in New Braunfels is buzzing once again. Having closed their doors to the public at the outset of COVID-19, the brewery is back open with an expanded biergarten, a new food trailer serving pub grub, and improvements around the tasting room.

Additionally, Faust now has a liquor license and is able to offer spirits, and the brewery owners are promoting their ability to host special events on site. While Faust had a soft re-opening April 1, the brewery hosted the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce for a formal opening and ribbon-cutting May 18 to celebrate their revamp.

Photo by Snap Chic Photography

San Antonio and its Hill Country neighbors take home 17 accolades at the 2023 Texas Travel Awards

BEST IN TEXAS

Residents living in Boerne and New Braunfels have some of the best attractions in the state, according to the 2023 Texas Travel Awards. The winners of these prestigious awards offer some of the most unique experiences that every traveler should see for themselves.

In all, the San Antonio area won a total of 17 accolades this year, which highlights just how positively travelers perceive the Hill Country region. The only Alamo City attraction to win a statewide award was the San Antonio Zoo, in the category for the best zoo/aquarium. The remaining awards all fell to the two outlying cities.

The Texas Travel Awards were created by Austin Monthly, San Antonio Magazine, and Texas Music publishers, and the winners are decided by a panel of industry professional judges, travel journalists, and a musician. 60 categories were chosen and split between statewide best attractions, and best attractions by population into three groups: small market, mid market, and big market.

Boerne, which is just 20 miles northwest of San Antonio, earned four accolades in this year’s awards. The historic boutique hotel The Kendall won the Best “Small Market” Hotel, known for its National and Texas landmark status and freestanding cabins. The Kendall is located in Boerne’s downtown Hill Country Mile, which earned its own award for the Best “Small Market” Destination Social Media Account. The “Texas-sized” 1.1 mile strip of historic local shops and restaurants evokes nostalgia while offering unique shopping experiences.

Earning the award for the most Instagrammable “Small Market” Spot is the “Wild Bill” Hickok Sculpture that was created in Boerne’s Texas Treasures Fine Art Gallery by local artist Erik Christianson. The bronze sculpture can be found in front of the Main Plaza.

The city's beloved Boerne City Lake Park won in the statewide category for Best Lake, renowned for its opportunities for fishing, swimming, watersport activities, and much more.

“Boerne is truly a special place, and we are thrilled to again have some of our beautiful destinations recognized by the Texas Travel Awards,” said Danny Zincke, Boerne Assistant City Manager in a statement. “This year’s award-winners are amazing — and just four of a million reasons to come spend time in Boerne.”

The city of New Braunfels took home 12 awards, the most out of any Texas city in this year’s rankings. Five awards were won in the best by population category, all in the “Big Market” subgroup: best bar, live music venue, museum, outdoor activity, and visitor center.

The New Braunfels attractions that won best “Big Market” awards by population, in order, are:

  • Sidecar at Prince Solms Inn
  • Gruene Hall
  • New Braunfels Conservation Society
  • Natural Bridge Caverns
  • New Braunfels Visitor Center

New Braunfels also took home seven awards in the statewide category, for the best agritourism, brewery, golf course, hiking/biking trail, place to dance, resort, and swimming pool.

The New Braunfels attractions that won the statewide awards, in order, are:

  • Dry Comal Creek Vineyards
  • Guadalupe Brewing Company
  • Landa Park Golf Course
  • Panther Canyon Trail
  • Gruene Hall
  • Camp Fimfo Texas Hill Country
  • Landa Park

One category that’s worth a mention for the Best “Mid Market” Outdoor Activity is Glow Kayak Tours in San Marcos, which is located just between San Antonio and Austin.

For the second consecutive year, the Texas Travel Awards created People's Choice awards for the public to vote on the best destinations in four categories: arts and culture, families, foodies, and outdoor adventures.

Unfortunately for San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth-area cities swept in the People's Choice category. Dallas won the award for Best Destination for Arts and Culture, and Grapevine won the Best Destination for Families award. The outlying towns of Granbury and Mineral Wells took home the awards for Best Destinations for Foodies and Outdoor Adventures, respectively.

The full list of winners in the 2023 Texas Travel Awards can be found on their website.

Gruene Hall Facebook

Legendary Gruene Hall nominated for coveted country music honor

One of Texas' most iconic dance halls is finally getting its due. For the first time in its 145-year-old history, Gruene Hall has been nominated as Best Club of the Year by the Academy of Country Music.

It's an honor that has been a long time coming. Built in 1878, the legendary venue bills itself as "the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas." Over the years, the honky tonk has hosted some of country music's most celebrated names, including Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Merle Haggard. It has also been an early testing ground for countless musicians. George Strait, Hal Ketchum, and Lyle Lovett are among the fresh-faced talent that kickstarted careers on Gruene's stage.

Throughout all those barn-burning performances, Gruene Hall has remained largely unchanged. Its original layout has been preserved, with side flaps for open-air dancing, a bar in the front, a small lighted stage in the back, and a huge outdoor garden. Today, visitors two-step under Gruene's tin roof seven days a week.

"We've been extremely fortunate to have so many cool things happen at the Hall, and being nominated for an ACM Award is another example of one of those unexpected things we get to be a part of," says Mary Jane Nalley, cofounder of Gruene Hall, via a release. "It's our first time being nominated, which is kind of crazy and super thrilling."

Other nominees for the award include Coyote Joe's in Charlotte, Grizzly Rose in Denver, Joe's on Weed Street in Chicago, and Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth. Notably, no Nashville venues made it to the shortlist.

The 58th Academy of Country Music Awards will be hosted by Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks on May 11 at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Gruene Hall, however, will be kept on pins and needles a little longer. The Industry Award winners will be announced at the Academy of Country Music Honors, a special event held in August at the hallowed Ryman Auditorium.

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Breathtaking Hill Country hideaway is lone Texas star on Vrbo's top 10 vacation homes in the U.S.

RIVERFRONT OASIS

A magnificently hidden home located just an hour and a half away from San Antonio has been chosen as one of Vrbo's "Vacation Homes of the Year" for 2023. It was the only Texas home chosen out hundreds of thousands of private residences on the vacation rental site.

The Vacation Homes of the Year showcases several popular homes throughout the country (with the occasional international spot) that range from "idyllic lakeside escapes to cozy mountain retreats and desert paradises." In all, two homes are based in California, and one each in Arizona, North Carolina, Oregon, New York, Florida, South Carolina, Idaho, Colorado, and Mexico.

Texas' Hill Country Riverfront Hideaway is tucked away on five acres of land bordering the Pedernales River in Dripping Springs. The home spans 2,150 square feet with an open-concept living area, three spacious bedrooms, two lavish bathrooms, a modern chef's kitchen, fireplace, and a breathtaking wrap-around terrace.

Floor-to-ceiling windows complete the space, allowing guests to take in all of the tranquility the Hill Country has to offer. With the home's 430 feet of river access, visitors can enjoy escaping the city and relax into the views of the vast canyon below.

Dripping Springs Riverfront HideawayImagine a getaway to this Hill Country paradise. Photo courtesy of Vrbo

The property is within a half hour drive to many of the finest wineries, breweries, and must-see outdoor recreation spots in Dripping Springs. Fredericksburg is only an hour's drive west for those wanting to head deeper into the Hill Country, and downtown Austin is an hour's drive to the east.

The average nightly cost for the riverfront oasis is $475, making it an ideal destination for small groups, a family trip, or a couple's getaway.

Dripping Springs Riverfront Hideaway

Photo courtesy of Vrbo

The Hill Country Riverfront Hideaway was the only Texas home chosen on Vrbo's list.

Expedia Brands president Jon Gieselman shared in a press release that there were plenty of eye-catching homes to wade through for the report.

"This year’s Vacation Homes of the Year range from an urban oasis and a cozy ranch home under $400 a night to a beachfront estate that can sleep the whole family and more," said Gieselman. "Every single Vacation Home of the Year has a beautiful view, and combined boast seven private pools and fire pits, eight hot tubs and even five putting greens."

The full list of Vrbo's 2023 Vacation Homes of the Year are:

  • No. 1 – The Oasis Estate in Palm Springs, California
  • No. 2 – The Happy Roadrunner in Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 3 – The Chasestone in Lake Norman, North Carolina
  • No. 4 – The Contemporary Gem in Manzanita, Oregon
  • No. 5 – Ocean View Oasis in Montauk, New York
  • No. 6 – The Riverfront Hideaway in Dripping Springs, Texas
  • No. 7 – 30A My Way in Rosemary Beach, Florida
  • No. 8 – Port of Call in Isle of Palms, South Carolina
  • No. 9 – Salmonfly Lodge in Victor, Idaho
  • No. 10 – Trestle House in Winter Park, Colorado
  • No. 11 – Villa Luna Nueva in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
More information about Vrbo's 2023 Vacation Homes of the Year can be found on their website.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus navigates marriage pitfalls in You Hurt My Feelings

Movie Review

Anybody who’s been married or in a long-term relationship knows that it’s almost impossible to be completely honest with his or her partner. There are always going to be moments – whether for the sake of expediency, in a show of support, or other reasons – when one person withholds their true opinion so as not to hurt the other person’s feelings.

That idea is the central tension point of You Hurt My Feelings, which follows Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a writer/teacher, and her husband, Don (Tobias Menzies), a therapist. Beth is in the middle of trying to get her first fiction book published, a process that is causing her unceasing anxiety. Don sees a series of patients, including a constantly-bickering couple (played by real-life husband and wife David Cross and Amber Tamblyn), and a few lapses cause him to question his commitment to the profession.

When Beth and her sister, Sarah (Michaela Watkins), accidentally overhear Don telling his brother-in-law, Mark (Arian Moayed), that he doesn’t like Sarah’s new book and is exhausted having to tell her otherwise, it sends Beth into an emotional spiral. The aftermath winds up pulling in not just the two couples, but also Beth and Don’s son, Eliot (Owen Teague), dredging up feelings that all of them normally try to keep hidden.

Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, the film is a funny and genuine look at how even the best couples can run into pitfalls. By most measures, Beth and Don get along fantastically well, supporting each other unwaveringly and showing their love in a variety of ways. When the story puts them at odds with each other, there’s never a question that they belong together, as even their arguments are tinged with exasperation instead of anger.

Holofcener complements the story of Beth and Don with a nice variety of side plots, including Eliot trying to start his own writing career while working at a weed store; Beth and Sarah’s mom, Georgia (Jeannie Berlin), offering up support and criticism in equal measures; and more. Don’s patients and Beth’s students offer an opportunity to expand the two characters’ personalities outside of their marriage while also adding a few other funny roles.

While perhaps not the most insightful film about marriage that’s ever been made, it is still highly enjoyable thanks to Holofcener’s writing and the strong performances. Filmed in New York City, the particular feel of that urban landscape and the way it affects the lives of the characters also plays a big part in the success of the film.

Louis-Dreyfus, as always, is a delight to watch. A kind of spiritual sequel to her previous collaboration with Holofcener, 2013’s Enough Said, the film gives her plenty of room to show off both her comedic and dramatic skills. Menzies makes for a steady presence, showing good chemistry with Louis-Dreyfus and a preternatural calm in therapy sessions. Watkins, Moayed, Teague, and Berlin all fit in seamlessly.

You Hurt My Feelings is not a world-changing kind of movie, but rather a solidly-told story about how relationships can be complicated. With actors who are easy to like and Holofcener’s reliably great filmmaking, it’s a movie for adults that’s nice counter-programming to the glut of summer blockbusters.

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You Hurt My Feelings is now playing in theaters.

Tobias Menzies and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in You Hurt My Feelings

Photo courtesy of A24

Tobias Menzies and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in You Hurt My Feelings.

7 San Antonio icons star in new Texas Monthly book documenting most influential Texans of last 50 years

LONE STARS RISING

Texas Monthly's editors have released the next book for reading list queues. To commemorate the publication's 50th anniversary, they've collected and bound the stories and photographs of 50 iconic Texans that have shaped our great state and the country over the past 50 years. And seven San Antonio megastars have made it on the roster.

Lone Stars Risingis Texas Monthly's third book, created in collaboration with Harper Wave Books. Among the book's 256 pages are not just the rich histories and commentaries about our most recognizable Texas legends, but a few "lesser-known individuals who have been toiling on the sidelines, quietly and intentionally shaping" our perception of our vast and great state.

The seven Alamo City idols that made it into the book include business magnates, legendary musicians, inspirational activists and artists.

  • Selena Quintanilla, the Queen of Tejano who opened her second boutique in San Antonio
  • George Strait, the King of Country
  • Charles Butt, CEO, Chairman, and heir of H-E-B
  • Sandra Cisneros, nationally-recognized author and founder of San Antonio's Macondo Foundation and the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Foundation
  • Willie Velásquez, social activist who founded the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project
  • Gloria Anzaldúa, author, poet, scholar, and feminist
  • Robert Rodriguez, the filmmaker behind the Spy Kids and Machete movies

Selena Quintanilla singer
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Selena Quintanilla leads the list of San Antonio icons.
Lone Stars Rising will be available for purchase on June 6. More information about the book can be found on texasmonthly.com.